My husband watches adult television shows like CSI and Law & Order around our two-year-old son. He says our boy is too young to understand so it doesn’t matter what we watch, but I disagree. What age should parents start limiting what kind of TV their kids are exposed to?


It’s a good idea to prevent young children from being exposed to violence, whether it’s in real life or on television. Research shows that young children are not able to process the information they see on television in the same way as adults can. They don’t have the experience to place what they see in context or make critical judgments about it.

After watching violence on TV, young kids can become aggressive or fearful, and they might expect that interactions in real life will be like the negative ones they see on TV.

Start setting limits on your son’s TV viewing now, and you’ll find it’s easier to enforce those limits as your son gets older.

Remember, two-year-olds are very social, so take advantage of this developmental stage. Rather than watching TV while your son is still awake, do something together as a family, whether it’s going for a walk, doing a craft or game, or playing with toys. These activities will further your son’s development while strengthening your family bond. You can save the TV watching for after he has gone to bed.

Written by Dr Ruwa Sabbagh. Originally published in Today’s Parent, April 2009.

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